CofChrist News Beat: World/USA Conference After-Action Reports

by: FireTag

April 26, 2013

CommunityofChrist_AspenGroveThe headline is clear. Community of Christ will provide sacramental ordinances of marriage, commitment ceremonies, and ordination independent of sexual orientation in the USA.

Specifically, after two days of discussion, the USA National Conference formally approved by a required 2/3rds majority the following recommendations to the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve:

  • The 2013 USA National Conference recommends the sacrament of marriage be extended, where legal in the USA, to persons of the same sex/gender. Thus the 2013 USA National Conference recommends a change to the current policy for the USA on the sacrament of marriage; and
  • The 2013 USA National Conference recommends that a church-recognized way for two persons of the same sex/gender to publicly express their covenant to each other be made available in places in the USA where marriage is not legal. Thus, the 2013 USA National Conference recommends a change to the current policy for the USA regarding same-sex/gender covenant commitment services where marriage is not legal; and
  • The 2013 USA National Conference recommends allowing a priesthood call to be processed according to established procedures regardless of sexual orientation, including a person in a monogamous, committed, same-sex/gender relationship (e.g., legal marriage, civil partnership, covenant relationship) in the USA.

Although it will take several months for these recommendations to be accepted and implemented by the Presidency and Apostles, this is a done deal. They have previously accepted the same recommendations, with locally relevant legal terminology, from Canadian and Australian conferences, as noted here.

I believe this is the theologically and ethically correct choice for the Community of Christ. Since that church incorporated revelation a generation ago into its Doctrine and Covenants in response to baptizing converts among polygamous cultures in India, and that revelation elevated monogamy as the basic principle of Christian marriage above other forms, it would have to find strong counter-arguments within its increasingly progressive interpretation of its own history and scripture to long withstand any cultural/generational shift in acceptance of gays in full church sacramental inclusion. The CofChrist has no equivalent to the LDS theology about the function of gender-roles in procreation of spirit children, and is suspicious of any scriptural interpretation that is seen apart from the specific culture and time in which it was given.

The last barrier to acceptance of full sacramental participation of gays in Western nations in the minds of most in the leading quorums was the danger it posed to church members and ministers in the developing nations where the church sees its future. The leading quorums argued against legislation such as that just approved even being discussed at the 2010 World Conference in the months prior to that assembly, and when the progressive elements insisted that it come to the floor anyway, the Prophet delivered (and the 2010 World Conference canonized) as revealed counsel authorization for special jurisdictional conferences to deal with issues of concern to particular cultures, rather than to impose resolution of such cultural concerns on the church as a whole.

So, the outcome of the USA National Conference gets the headlines, and the Community of Christ becomes a much more welcoming place (at least in the US, Canada, and Australia) for those in monogamous same-sex relationships than it has been in the past. But a number of other things occurred at World Conference that would have otherwise been considered historic, yet received little coverage outside of Independence. Several of these were discussed earlier this week at Mormonism Unveiled, and I wrote a summary of pending legislation several weeks before the World Conference here.

For feminists, cheery news comes with the selection of Linda Booth to be President of the Quorum of Twelve. This was unsurprising since she had been serving in an interim basis in this role since shortly after the resignation of Apostle James Slauter to care for a sick grandchild in 2011. However, it is the first time in the history of the RLDS/CofChrist tradition that a woman has held this particular office. One of the First Presidency is already a woman. In addition, the Conference confirmed the calls of additional Apostles by the Prophet to fill openings due to retirements and reassignments. Five of the Quorum of Twelve are now women. And none of these leadership roles draw significant opposition from those remaining in the church.

However, there were a number of issues where there were procedural or substantive policy votes where vote totals were close enough that they were individually recorded in the minutes, and seemed to measure the strength of “progressive” versus “traditional” elements in the World Church. These votes often seemed to break about 60-40 in favor of the progressive side. Since the level of traditional support was consistently higher than in the subsequent USA Conference, I presume that this represents an informal alignment of the remaining North American conservatives with the growing number of evangelically-influenced developing world members around traditional understandings of personal morality.

The closest vote in the World Conference split about 51-49 and concerned official church attitudes toward the consumption of alcohol. The narrow vote removed an old church regulation against consumption of alcohol, but by a larger margin left in place pending further study a more modern citation of intoxication as one of the grosser sins. The First Presidency had to explain to the delegates the following day that what they had actually voted to do was to merely eliminate consumption of alcohol as a basis for excommunication. (It should be noted that excommunication for any reason is rarely enforced by the CofChrist anyway, and hasn’t been used for violations of any part of the Word of Wisdom, to my knowledge, in decades.)

I can’t do a formal exit poll, of course, but I think there is some strong anecdotal evidence to support the interpretation that the CofChrist is following other “mainline” American churches into a future where denominationally-affiliated Americans sort into “red” and “blue” versions of the same religious tradition, but the “blue” denominations will be increasingly checked in areas of personal morality by the ethics of the developing world members.

For example, the USA conference, as viewed by those who participated, was filled with a great deal of harmony and peace, and a sense of joy and liberation. Typical are the comments and tweets listed here, as well as the press releases and interviews being granted by church leadership to media in the Kansas City area. By contrast, I have checked several times this week at the media sites of the traditionalist strains of the RLDS movement without finding any references to the CofChrist actions. Those sites are simply about their own version of building the Kingdom with plans for summer camps, overseas missions, and service charities.

Indeed, the only negative comment I heard about came from an Asian participant in World Conference whose return flight occurred after the USA conference. That comment, referring to acceptance of gay marriage, was along the lines of “that will never happen in my country”.

Nevertheless, there doesn’t seem to have been any great reconciliation of differing views from those that hadn’t already decided to stay in the church, come what may at the conference. The Community of Christ tries to report contributions of world church tithing monthly in order to keep the people focused on meeting the budget. In the fall of 2012, about the time that USA conference delegations were being selected, reports were that budgetary targets were being met or even exceeded. But by the time of the USA conference itself, the latest report showed contributions had plunged to the point that they would have to rise by 70% over target for the remainder of the fiscal year for budgets to be made.

So, in this larger framework, I think the most significant World Conference events — and certainly the strangest I’ve ever seen in a Conference — have to do with “Resolution G-3A”. G-3A is a substitute motion brought forward to the Conference by the Quorum of Twelve under irregular procedures the leadership felt were required for the same “danger to members and church leaders” in countries affected by a World Church resolution rationale that deflected concerns about gay rights to national conferences.

G-3A substitutes for a proposed Resolution G-3 that was regularly passed and submitted by a subordinate jurisdiction of the church last fall. I’d like to provide a link to G-3, but I can’t, because the leadership did not even publish it online with the other proposed legislation because such publication itself was presumed to trigger the danger. I have no idea what G-3 says, or why G-3A improves upon it, or, for that matter, what G-3A itself says after we passed it (because the leadership still has to frame guidance as to how G-3A is to be communicated to the field). I only know that passing G-3A means the Community of Christ can honestly tell any government agency anywhere in the world that cares that we never considered Resolution G-3.

Reading the minutes of those parliamentary maneuvers is like reading the minutes of a Hogwarts faculty meeting where you can tell that there are deadly serious discussions going on about he-who-must-not-be-named with everyone trying to carefully avoid naming he-who-must-not-be-named. Only in our case, the deadly seriousness is about the “G-that-must-not-be-named”. The conference spent most of a legislative day maneuvering to not discuss the G, then was forced to spend a substantial portion of the next day’s morning legislative session on a motion to reconsider, and finally, on the last day of conference, the leadership issued the following statement from the First Presidency and the Apostles:

“We recognize there are some members of the Conference who have been disappointed or offended by the approval of resolution G-3A—Supporting Indigenous and Minority Peoples. We want to assure the Conference that it was never the intention of the Council of Twelve to devalue the voice of the First People or to lessen the advocacy for indigenous peoples reflected in the original G-3. G-3A was the Council of Twelve’s desire to provide advocacy for all indigenous peoples of the world, while also seeking to keep safe other members of our global community. We want to sincerely apologize if our intent offended some members of the body.

“Be assured that as the resolves of G-3A speak of expressing our solidarity with indigenous peoples of the world, it is our genuine desire to invite and involve indigenous peoples in giving voice to how the church takes action to respond to the provisions of G-3A. Following World Conference, the First Presidency and Council of Twelve will begin to consider which WorldChurch teams we will ask to address the actions for G-3A. We will work with indigenous peoples in how to best involve them in our actions as a church.”

With this statement and the term “Doctrine of Discovery” that was left as a title line in one of the daily minutes, one can discern why the Presidency and Twelve saw potential for conflict endangering church members and leaders in countries where free speech rights are less secure than in the (primarily) North American jurisdiction where G-3 originated. Indeed, some other denominations have dealt with this topic legislatively or by executive action, and there is a discussion of the issue unrelated to the Community of Christ here.

The leadership of the CofChrist has now established the precedent, in two successive conferences at minimum, that their view of their pastoral, presiding, and/or prophetic roles will not countenance allowing statements of moral principles by subordinate jurisdictions or the World Conference to endanger church members or leaders in individual jurisdictions of the church.

They reserve the right to inject morality into politically charged issues to themselves or to those who they choose to delegate with the task. They did, for example, rule out of order, a resolution asking for restraint on a First Presidency statement on United States (and solely United States) immigration policy. They permitted and the conference passed, with a single word change, a resolution directing the church to advocate the abolition of nuclear weapons, although the church has significant presence in only one nuclear weapons state where advocacy regarding aspects of security policy is tolerated. (We passed substantively the same resolution in the 1980s during the public policy debate over the US installation of Pershing medium-range missiles in Western Europe; fortunately for Eastern Europe our statement of moral principle seems to have been ignored.) And there were no statements of apology for hurting those who held opposing views to the majority of the conference.

Yet, it must also be noted that there is another element in their pastoral calculation. They are still trying to retain those whom they can not support within their flock. That’s good for the flock, but is it necessarily what is best for the individual sheep? After all, it is not as if the CofChrist will formally continue to assert it is generally superior to other denominational boundaries; being the one true church is no longer important to its identity.  It will, for example, already accept baptisms and offer communion to members of other Christian denominations. So, as long as their people are still following Christ, what rationale does the CofChrist offer for people to remain who feel a call to serve Christ in other communities or by devotion to Him through other causes?

This third element of the problem as they define it over-constrains their consideration of alternatives and may make solutions they seek unobtainable within their institutional framework.  Many North American traditionalists have left the tradition in blocs, and many North American progressives have left individually as their concerns remained unaddressed. Yet, now it is blocs of progressives that have pushed policies in 2010 and 2013 that threaten the growth of the church outside North America, and that the leadership regards as mistakes in terms of protecting their entire remaining flock.

In response — and I think it is the deeper significance of the G-3 non-discussion — the leading quorums are moving to change the entire common consent procedures of World Conference in ways that must necessarily limit the ability of members or lay priesthood to influence agendas in the interest of preventing “mistakes”. I believe we have just seen the high water mark of progressive populism within the Community of Christ.

The procedures under consideration should probably be the subject of a separate post rather than being explained here, so I primarily want to note that in the history of the RLDS movement, it is procedural changes rather than substantive doctrinal changes that drive the evolution of the church. Change the procedures, and the power to enact doctrinal change will follow.

In the Great Depression we had the issue of “supreme directional control”, in which the Presidency, the Apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric (chief financial authorities) were deeply divided against each other, and procedures were set forth that clearly made the First Presidency first. Prior to the 1960’s elected delegates to World Conference were overwhelmed by elders and high priests (mostly elderly or conservative) who lived near Independence and could vote on the basis of being MP simply by showing up.  The church could never evolve in a liberal direction until that voting right was stripped away, because Zion-building was seen as involving gathering to Independence, and so that’s where faithful RLDS gathered to retire.

When the new common consent procedures are implemented — and there were enough technical embarrassments in demonstrations and tests at World Conference to show that multi-language use at scales traditional to world conference still has a lot of bugs, although something similar in concept successfully guided the USA Conference — control of the agenda will pass almost completely to the leading quorums, international HQ staff in Independence, consultant and project teams assembled by the quorums, and “special interests” (sorry, but it has to be said) with the resources to pursue an agenda item over one or several inter-conference periods. We will have pretty well completed the seemingly inevitable organizational transition where staff offices dominate line offices.

Pillow lavaI fear we will also have slowed ourselves to the point where we will not make mistakes because we will not make decisions, and our little “COB” (or our little Vatican City) will be everywhere OBE. This may not be a bad thing; Christ had to manifest through a route other than the Sanhedrin, and neither the Reformation nor the Restoration could arise in Rome. Prophetic people do not thrive in the environments of OBE COBs. Indeed, such environments are almost exactly the definition of a people where the priestly class has overwhelmed the prophets. But God continues to love the old and let it serve Him as best it can, while the prophetic  Spirit breaks out anew somewhere else.

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34 Responses to CofChrist News Beat: World/USA Conference After-Action Reports

  1. FireTag on April 26, 2013 at 10:50 PM

    I just received an update from my Mission Center (a subdivision of an Apostolic field with membership typical of an LDS stake, but often covering multiple states or even nations) regarding outreach to those who are having trouble with the recommendations of the USA National Conference. I presume that in most cases the disappointed are traditionalists, but it might be GLBT members who have to cross state boundaries to worship.

    The relevant portion of the announcement reads: “…Mission Center has organized Pastoral Response Teams to provide safe places for those who are struggling with the USA National Conference recommendations. These teams will be dispatched to individuals or congregations who are in need. To access one of these teams you have the option of going through your pastor or other person in your congregation who will contact…”

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  2. Hedgehog on April 27, 2013 at 12:07 AM

    Fascinating. I’m off to digest this before commenting.

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  3. Hedgehog on April 28, 2013 at 3:18 AM

    “Many North American traditionalists have left the tradition in blocs, and many North American progressives have left individually as their concerns remained unaddressed. Yet, now it is blocs of progressives that have pushed policies in 2010 and 2013 that threaten the growth of the church outside North America, and that the leadership regards as mistakes in terms of protecting their entire remaining flock.”
    So, am I understanding you correctly, that whereas previously traditionalists will have left as a congregation perhaps, in response to some changes that were made, now it is the progressive element that is grouping together and threatening to depart if their desired changes aren’t brought forward?
    If I am correct, this does seem to have some small parallel with what I see happening in the LDS church. Certainly, at the time of the 1978 priesthood revelation, I have heard of a congregation in Britain that opted to got its own way, though I’d be surprised if it existed now. I think the LDS tend to err on the side of allowing progressives to leave individually until the loss risks becoming a haemorrhage. The internet is allowing the progressives to group together as a bloc, and that is certainly happening with the whole equality for women that is happening now. Is the internet a factor in the banding together of progressives in the CofChrist, or is it more of a function of there being fewer traditionalists on account of changes that have already been made previously?

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  4. Howard on April 28, 2013 at 7:18 AM

    Very interesting FireTag! Do you see the progressive changes more God than man or more man than God, more inspired or more political? Is this the right mix for the church going forward in a global arena? If not what mix would be better? What lessons can the LDS church take away form this?

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  5. Douglas on April 28, 2013 at 8:57 AM

    Is the pic the Auditorium or the Independence temple? Either way, I really like the layout of the place. There is also a reason with personal fascination with the CoC (formerly RLDS). The “child with the lamb and the lion” logo has always been familiar to me from early childhood, and my father (80 years old, who is never has, is not, and never will want anything to do with anything LDS) mentioned to me after my mother passed away in 1995 that my mother had been involved with “those Mormons” when I was a tot, but now I wonder WHICH “Mormon” sect it was. A possibility, but I’ve no idea how to research if my late mother was ever a member of the now-CoC.

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  6. Mormon Heretic on April 28, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    FireTag, thanks for the update. I view the CoC as a parallel universe to compare what would happen if LDS liberals ran the place like CoC liberals do. I’m also impressed that the CoC has outreach to both traditionalists and liberals that aren’t comfortable with changes in the church.

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  7. FireTag on April 28, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    Hedgehog:

    The progressives were never threatening to depart AS A GROUP if they didn’t get their way. I know of some threats to resign as appointee ministers if disciplinary action was taken against individual ministers who “jumped the gun” and officiated at gay marriages in places where it was permitted under civil law. When the legislative agenda they had fought so hard (in some cases for decades) to get on the World Conference floor in 2010 was preempted by the prophetic guidance that became CofChrist D&C 164, some congregations and individuals did what their consciences told them to do, and simply relied on the glacial pace of any church disciplinary actions to get to the National Conferences. Those who gave up on the church tended to move to Protestant churches more progressive than the CofChrist, which already exist. Unlike the traditionalists in North America, to whom the Restoration’s “one and only true church” status is important, they felt no need to create an even more progressive version of Mormonism. I think had the progressives lost at the 2013 conference, the number of progressives giving up on the church would have dramatically accelerated, but the progressives did NOT lose. North American traditionalists lost, and so there will be an influx into the smaller traditionalist offshoots of the RLDS movement that already exist.

    But the CofChrist’s baptisms in North America (which statistically is the US + Canada) peaked more than a generation ago in the 1950s. Membership is in a long slow decline (it follows a quite-predictable mathematical function) that no attempt to become more progressive has altered at all. The future of the Community of Christ is bleak if it remains dominated by North Americans, and you see the leaders trying to move toward being a non-American-dominated denomination consistently under the last several Presidencies. It is a trend that well precedes the internet, and so I don’t think the internet is particularly implicated for us. The movement toward progressive doctrines was more top-down for us, rather than bottom-up.

    What the leadership sees now is that progressives in North America, in trying to pursue western progressive ideas of justice, are risking the safety of the church members in developing countries, and may force THOSE developing churches to schism from the First World churches. The developing churches may share with progressives ideals of collective justice, but often have VERY traditional views of personal morality taught to them by earlier generations of Protestant or Catholic missionaries. (A relevant example here might be the problems between the Church of England and Anglican bodies in Africa.) If the choice comes in THAT form, both personal conscience and administrative responsibility make the leadership side with the church in the developing world, and the leadership isn’t glacial on the few things that are TOP priorities to it.

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  8. FireTag on April 28, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    Howard:

    I have always taken to heart something I heard one of our Apostles (Gene Austin) say a long time ago: “Who do they think INVENTED the laws of economics?” I think the same thing goes for politics. I don’t think God is limited to acting in only personal-like ways. Granted, if personal aspects appear nowhere in reality, “God” and “physical law” reduce to the same concept and maybe we need only the latter term, but “politics” is definitely about the behavior of “persons”, so I don’t think the presence of politics implies the absence of God. I HOPE an appreciation of the politics enhances our understanding of how God works.

    What I do note is that God seems to inspire different people, different parts of a church, and different churches to move in different directions (if you do not believe that your denomination is the “one and only true church”). So I’m not sure that there is a general answer to the “right mix” part of your question. Indeed, if you give up the “only true church” concept, you have to reset to the original First Vision type of question, and ask where does God want YOU before you think seriously about what is the best course for the church. In other words, I have no time to figure out what Methodists should do.

    I think the lesson for the LDS church is that liberals within it should NOT argue for more progressive positions on the utilitarian basis of promoting growth in numbers. Progressive policies may be argued on moral principles, but positive impacts on growth do not occur.

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  9. FireTag on April 28, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    Douglas:

    The picture is of the interior of the Temple during the USA Conference with the Apostles with USA Fields presiding. The Auditorium is significantly larger in seating capacity. I’ll have more to say about the grove in the foreground in a future post; it is NOT a normal part of the Temple furnishing.

    The Community of Christ lacks resources to police its membership roles when people leave the church. Almost a quarter of our members listed as “active” in North America are also listed as “unknown”, which quite literally means the church has no idea whether they are dead or alive. The records are typically only purged from unknown and recorded as deaths a set number of years (I think 92) after birth. If your mother was involved with the RLDS decades ago, but would not yet be 92 had she lived, it is entirely possible she’s still on the roles. You could probably call the Office of Membership Records at International Headquarters in Independence and they could check based on her name and date of birth.

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  10. FireTag on April 28, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    MH:

    Glad to know we can serve as a good (bad?) example. :D

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  11. Douglas on April 28, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    Firetag, thanks. I’ll go to it. DLS

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  12. Howard on April 28, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    FireTag,
    Thank you for sharing you interesting prospective!

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  13. Hedgehog on April 29, 2013 at 1:54 AM

    Thanks FireTag. That’s really interesting.

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  14. mark gibson on April 29, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    FT:

    Although I read the daily minutes, I still looked forward to your comments on what went on; and I have discussed items with my older brother who is a pastor.

    Like the Asian delegate, many members feel “it will never happen here” but I think that, sooner or later, church authorities higher up will ask “why aren’t you with the program?” How long do you think local pastors/congregations could sustain that ?

    Do you believe, at least partly, that putting items aside for 3 years to “study” is just a way to allow time to gather support for them? An immediate vote might have been in the negative.

    I noticed the liberal element regards policy, in both the D&C and WCR, as “that was then, this is now” but to find the basis for making changes they quickly cite 19th century resolutions/revelations.

    Thanks again for an objective account.

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  15. Rich Brown on April 29, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    “The picture is of the interior of the Temple during the USA Conference with the Apostles with USA Fields presiding.”

    The photo is actually of the Auditorium conference chamber, taken from behind a grove of aspen trees (no, they weren’t real but still a beautiful and meaningful artistic/symbolic element) set up in the balcony. I was one of the approximately 1,500 delegates seated on the main floor, which seats considerably more than that. The five apostles (including two who had just been ordained a few days before at World Conference) whose field assignments cover the USA presided over the conference from the large rostrum area. Visitors sat in the balcony.

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  16. FireTag on April 29, 2013 at 9:50 PM

    Rich:

    I stand corrected. I pulled the picture from the Examiner coverage, and didn’t think it was possible for the event staff to pull the WC flags-of-nations configuration and set up the chamber (including the grove) for the National Conference in the few hours between events, especially when I saw the five Apostles presiding. My mistake, but I will be having more to say about that artistic symbol in my next post.

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  17. FireTag on April 29, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    Mark:

    Sorry the post server was down for so long this evening, and I’m just getting back to you now.

    I presume your 3-year reference was to the interval between 2010 and 2013 and in regard to the legislation on sacramental treatment of gay marriage and ordination.

    I believe that this legislation would have passed the world conference in 2010, and that the priority expressed by the Presidency to protect the church outside of the First World from harm by its passage was genuine.

    As I’ve said in earlier posts after the 2010 conference, the membership of the church in the US is substantially different in outlook at the local level from that which “self-selects” to become World Conference delegates, especially in areas outside the Independence area. And delegate elections outside of Independence are normally more of a “who’s got the vacation time and money to study the pre-conference materials and to go to Independence for a week in April” than any kind of COMPETITION for delegate slots. The same small fraction of church members in a Mission Center show up at Mission Center Conferences year after year, and nominate the same delegates. Everybody knows everybody, people have made known their availability before conference, and the election can be over and done with in minutes. (When we want to add diversity through, e.g., youth, we may simply elect the children of the families that have been delegates in the past instead of their parents.)

    The repeated emphasis you see in CofChrist media on giving equally to local and world church initiatives is necessary because many more people participate in giving at the local level than at the world church level (historically, by about a 2:1 ratio in contributions). Their congregation is important to them, but not necessarily what goes on in Independence.

    Liberals were organized and prepared in 2010 in a way that traditionalists were not, which resulted in passing a lot of GLBT legislation at the MC level for inclusion on the WC agenda. For many traditionalists, when word of the 2010 conference got back to them it was a “my church wants to do WHAT” moment. So I don’t think that the church leaders were stalling to promote passage; they were stalling to minimize the potential for schism.

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  18. mark gibson on April 30, 2013 at 7:13 AM

    Thanks for replying FT

    What exactly was the “doctrine of discovery” that had to be denounced? I can’t find any details.

    Both issues of baptismal age/prayers will be announced later, although as you pointed out the presidency has already made a statement on baptisms under age 8.

    “It is God’s presence, and not the form of specific words spoken that matter for the effectiveness of the sacraments.” This quote from the preamble of the resolution on baptismal prayers is a tactic I’ve seen used before to foster change. What is inferred is that God’s presence will NOT be felt if the traditional concept is retained.

    This question may be terse, but I gotta ask it. The liberal membership is bringing the church more into their way of thinking; so why isn’t there a better response in tithing/contributions? It has never been regarded as a test of fellowship but I just wonder why.

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  19. FireTag on April 30, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    Mark:

    http://www.doctrineofdiscovery.org/

    provides a link to the topic from other denominations and a UN perspective, so I presume I can share that without any reference to the-G-we-did-not-discuss. From the link you’ll be able to see why a few governments might take a dim view of questioning their rights to national status, particularly where there may be active revolutionary movements involved.

    There were studies performed over the past few years, although I can’t put my fingers on a particular internet reference at the moment, that shows a very strong correlation among tithe-giving with age. Bluntly, the older generation pays far more in tithing than the younger generation. In part, that is probably life situation rather than political causality, but the older generation is also more traditionalist, so any change in EITHER the elderly’s life situation or their sense of loyalty to the WC will show up as a budgetary problem for the church. Tithing has been a problem for WC operations for years, with two staff RIF’s since 2000, and a lot of double-hatting and consolidation of field jurisdictions through attrition.

    The sudden decline in the monthly giving reports in the past few months seems to be something different from the long term trend. I’ll be looking to see what the new budgetary goals that were discussed at the Conference turned out to be.

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  20. Dara on May 1, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    Fire tag rlds now CodC gave women the priesthood in 1984. How do u give what u do not hace

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  21. Dara on May 1, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    Have?

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  22. Andrew S on May 1, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    Dara,

    If you’re going to troll, at least use spell check first.

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  23. Douglas on May 1, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    #22 – lighten up. Naturally an LDS would say that, but probably should know better. If the CoC (then the RLDS) wanted to give women, martians, or alien space bats their version of the PH, it’s their prerogative. It comes down to WHICH (if any) is inspired?
    BTW, even in the pale of suffering digestive maladies of late, I got to have a humorous moment that was worth it. I had to have an abdominal X-ray this AM to see if intervention (do they call “roto-rooter?) would be needed. Well, fortunately, I was sent home with stronger chemicals to get the job done. The visit summary (necessary to claim it on an FSA, a mere receipt won’t do) mentioned that portion of my GI tract as being “full”. Gee, I needed a medical opinion for that? (Numerous colleagues would affirm same). FEEL FREE TO CONTRADICT ME.

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  24. Rich Brown on May 2, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    Here’s one person’s reflection on the USA National Conference of Community of Christ.

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  25. FireTag on May 2, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Dara:

    I was baptized by a lineal descendant of Joseph Smith (and of many other RLDS prophets) in the basement font of a church built and remodeled from an old barn on the farm owned by Hyrum Smith’s family in Pontiac from which one wing of the Zion’s Camp rescue mission to Missouri was launched back in the 1830s. My priesthood authority traced back to the same source as that of any LDS priesthood, and when I have processed calls to the priesthood in a presiding elder role, I have done so with full awareness of the accountability I hold before God to sense the Spirit correctly. I hope your Bishops do the same.

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  26. FireTag on May 2, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    Rich:

    The link you shared generally reflects what I have heard expressed by many participants in the National Conference. It is particularly moving to note that if everyone had made the choice to follow a different path of faith in the past than the community when decisions were difficult, the Community of Christ would not now exist. However, I must also note that if everyone had bought that same logic in, say, 1844, and held with the community through honest, but deeply held differences of belief, the Community of Christ would not now exist either. The same would have held true in 1830, or at the time of the Reformation, or for that matter, at the time Paul was struggling to reconcile Christ’s revelation with his understanding of Judaism.

    The significance of separatist sympathies looks a lot different before and after the separatists become the establishment. I suspect that is an issue we’ll need to examine a lot more before we understand the role of multiple denominations in God’s plan, especially in the context of preparing to consider the Section-165-to-come.

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  27. Dara on May 4, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    One sign of the true church. It will not succumb to the changing winds of public opinion. Fire tag
    Logic would seem to indicate when the rlds split occurred, authority to act in the name if God was withdrawn from them

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  28. FireTag on May 4, 2013 at 11:14 PM

    Funny, Dara. I grew up being taught exactly the same thing about the LDS having the authority withdrawn from them for some of the sexual sins of the Nauvoo period. It was something of a fruitless argument, wasting the mission resources of both organizations, since the split was a century old.

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  29. Dan Jeffers on May 14, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    FireTag, re: the resolutions ruled out of order, I’ve been struggling to describe (just for myself) the relative roles of the Conference and of top leadership in C of Christ. One analogy would be to a corporation, with Conference delegates as a board of directors and the First Presidency as the top management — the board is, in theory, free to remove top management, but not allowed any say in day-to-day operations. I’ve been on boards where board members were told they were stepping out of bounds when they asked “too many” questions of management and wanted “too much” operational input and that seemed to be what happened with the resolutions in question.

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  30. FireTag on May 14, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    Dan Jeffers:

    Good analogy. However, with thousands of delegates, a better analogy might be a “shareholders” meeting. (The Board of Directors might be more analogous to the Twelve or the World Church Leadership Council.) But a shareholders meeting can not control the Presidency, and the Presidency can fire the Twelve. So, in effect, if there is any control, it might just show up in how many people are willing to keep buying the stock.

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  31. Doug on July 2, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    I was very pleased when I heard about the CofC’s recomendations regarding gay and lesbian marriages/comittment ceremonies. It is very comforting and meaningful to many people such as myself who have felt excluded in the Restoration churches for so long because of their orientation.

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  32. Nick Literski on July 2, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    One sign of the true church. It will not succumb to the changing winds of public opinion.

    Oh, dear….Dara, pack your bags and be ready for the “apostacy express!” With that sentiment, your only way to stay LDS will be to avoid reading any of your church’s history!

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  33. Remembering FireTag | Wheat and Tares on September 6, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    […] out the Community of Christ/RLDS Church’s very personality (one recent favorite post was his World/USA Conference After-Action Report). And while I didn’t necessarily agree with (or fully…comprehend) some of […]

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  34. jkenttt on February 27, 2014 at 5:52 AM

    Giving to World Church, mission tithes, are off more than $1.5 million, or 20%, according to The Herald Magazine. Local church giving #’s are not available.

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